SWOT ANALYSIS is one of the most used forms of business analysis. A SWOT examines and assesses the impacts of internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats, on the success of the "subject" of analysis. An important part of a SWOT analysis involves listing and evaluating the firms strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Each of these elements is described:
1. Strengths: Strengths are those factors that make an organization more competitive than its marketplace peers. Strengths are what the company has a distinctive advantage at doing or what resources it has that is strategic to the competition. Strengths are, in effect, resources, capabilities and core competencies that the organization holds that can be used effectively to achieve its performance objectives.
2. Weaknesses: A weakness is a limitation, fault, or defect within the organization that will keep it from achieving its objectives; it is what an organization does poorly or where it has inferior capabilities or resources as compared to the competition.
3. Opportunities: Opportunities include any favorable current prospective situation in the organizations environment, such as a trend, market, change or overlooked need that supports the demand for a product or service and permits the organization to enhance its competitive position.
4. Threats: A threat includes any unfavorable situation, trend or impending change in an organizations environment that is currently or potentially damaging or threatening to its ability to compete. It may be a barrier, constraint, or anything that might inflict problems, damages, harm or injury to the organization.
A firms strengths and weaknesses (i.e., its internal environment) are made up of factors over which it has greater relative control. These factors include the firms resources; culture; systems; staffing practices; and the personal values of the firms managers. Meanwhile, an organizations opportunities and threats (i.e., its external environment) are made up of those factors over which the organization has lesser relative control. These factors include, among others, overall demand, the degree of market saturation, government policies, economic condition, social, cultural, and ethical developments; technological developments; ecological developments, and the factors making up Porters Five Forces (i.e., intensity of rivalry, threat of new entrants, threat of substitute products, bargaining power of buyers, and bargaining power of suppliers.)
EXCESS OF REVENUE OVER EXPENSES in the not-for-profit sector. There is a common misconception that not-for-profit organizations are not allowed to have a financial cushion as they are 'not-for-profit'. In this context it is useful to remember that not-for-profit organizations are also 'not-for-loss' organizations. An organization cannot sustain losses over the long term without ceasing to operate or going bankrupt. Excess of revenue over expenses is the planned financial position that there will always be a sufficient amount of funds on hand to continue to run the not-for-profit entity for some period without additional funding; usually 3-4 months.
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